Usability – a Website’s Forgotten Imperative

Creating a website is fast becoming one of the critical marketing strategies for launching a successful small business. Time is spent planning content, getting the brand look just right and implementing search engine optimisation strategies; but often web designers or web DIYers forget the basic imperative – is it easy to use?

This post will discuss some key considerations to ensure usability is on the top of your list when designing your website.

Top 5 Tips for Usability

1.Text to Graphic Balance

We sometimes feel the need to say everything on our home page, in fear that browsers wont delve deeper or to maximise SEO opportunities. On the flip side, other businesses put only graphics mixing stunning pictures with graphic text. When it comes to prioritising the browser’s experience, we recommend aiming for balance. A small paragraph of keyword rich text placed towards the bottom ticks off SEO, while an image slider towards the top of the page lets you show case imagery with variation and reduces load time. Break up your home page into sections, use different column configurations to keep it interesting and balanced.

2.Navigation

When I land on a website, I usually want to get to where I need to go, quickly. A clear navigation panel, whether it be horizontal or vertical, is essential. It can be tempting to get creative with headings, but think of your user; will it make sense to your target? Or are your being too creative? Use your navigation panel to organise your content into logical groups. Drop downs and expanded lists off main headings are great if it helps your user narrow down where they want to be. Also consider easy ways for your browser to get back. Whether it be back one page or back to the home page, there should be an efficient strategy in place.

3.Key Messages

When you monitor your website traffic, you hear about Bounce Rate. This is the percentage of people that click off your website within 5 seconds of arriving. 5 seconds – it probably took you longer to read that first sentence. With such a small amount of time to make a big impact, it is crucial your key messages are highlighted. What sets you apart from competitors – Free Delivery, Capped Delivery, Free Returns, 24/7 Customer Service, Award Winning; whatever it is, make sure your target will see it within 5 seconds of landing. Is social media a large part of your strategy? Ensure you have sharing buttons, news feeds and sign up buttons, all within sight. If you are aiming to drive blog or newsletter subscriptions make sure you have sign up boxes with clear reasons why browsers should take action “Sign up to our newsletter for the latest info and monthly promotion” or “Sign up to our blog for free property market insight reports every week”

4.Contact Details

Your website probably won’t answer every question every browser has and if it does, some browsers want to make contact with a person or at least know the opportunity is there. Make sure there is a clear call out to your contact page, whether it is on your navigation panel or a button. If you have a contact number, consider putting it on the homepage; and if you have an email address it would be great to put that on the contact form page and if possible on the homepage. I know personally I have been frustrated in the past looking for a contact email address, scouring social media pages and the website and not being able to find one, and have given up contacting them all together.

5.Setting up Links

This final tip for usability is a great benefit for your browser and also for your website dwell time. Set up your links to external websites so that they open in a new window. This means when a browser clicks on that link, your website does not disappear. Instead the new content appears in its own window, meaning your traffic stays on your website and your browser doesn’t have to “find their way” back to you or worse still, forget to make it back to your site at all.

What about Transferability?

When considering usability it not only important to think about who is using your website, but also how they are accessing it.

In our last post I spoke about a major market research project I have recently been involved with under the banner of MumsNow where Wise Up Marketing Solutions together with Motivating Mum undertook a survey of over 1,000 Australian Mums. (A series of reports on Social Media habits, The rise of the Mumpreneur and more, can now be purchased)

We found that Australian Mums are primarily browsing the internet on Laptops (72%), and then surprisingly equally across iPhone and Desktop PC (51%) with iPad creeping up (29%) and with a whopping 50% indicating the next piece of technology on their shopping list is an iPad, we can expect that number to grow.

So before you sign off on your website to go live make sure you check how it transfers across iPad, iPhone, Tablet and Smart Phone. Is it still meeting the key useability benchmarks? (and does it still look great?)

If you would like a second opinion on a website about to launch or one that’s not delivering the results it should, our Wise Up Online Package includes a website effectiveness audit and a 20 page report uncovering the truth about your website and indentifying how you can unleash it’s true potential.

Until next week, U is for Usability and only 5 Posts to go in the A-Z of Marketing! What would you like our next series to be on? Comment below or email maryanne@wiseupmarketing.com.au

Mary-Anne

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